“This is actually pretty amazing,” said Hsi-Pei Liao, whose daughter, Allison, was fatally struck while crossing Main St. at Cherry Ave. last October. “It’s very personal.”
Nearly 2,000 people are expected to take a safety oath at P.S. 173, promising to “value the preservation of life above all else” while behind the wheel.
It couldn’t come at a better time.
Police even stepped in last month to stop short-tempered drivers from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street, The Queens Courier reported.
“Our traffic conditions outside of our school are so severe,” said PTA President Italia Augienello. “We don’t need another tragedy. I’m afraid because, next time, it could be my kid.”
The driver who hit Allison remained at the scene and was not charged with a crime, police said. He was issued two summonses for failing to exercise due care and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
The irreversible tragedy has led Hsi-Pei and his wife, Amy, who works as a social worker, to turn their pain into progress.
“We can’t save her,” said Hsi-Pei, a 36-year-old software technician. “There’s a feeling of helplessness and we can’t do that anymore. We can’t do that to ourselves anymore.”
The couple, in February, helped create Families for Safe Streets, a New York City-based group fighting for an end to traffic deaths.
They also meet monthly with local precincts and the PTA, drive to Albany to plead with elected officials and rally with a local advocacy group, Make Queens Safer.
“Something needs to be changed,” Hsi-Pei said. “Even if it constantly brings up the topic of why I lost my daughter, I feel like we’re proactively doing something.”
The family’s resilience has inspired hundreds on a local and citywide level. All 940 students in the school are expected to take the pledge to be careful on the streets and at least 1,000 parents, staff and residents plan to do the same.
“It’s amazing — the strength they have after what they’ve been through,” Augienello said. “They’re humble and quiet, yet they’re strong and their voices are heard.”
All are welcome to join the assembly March 21 at 1:10 p.m., inside the school’s auditorium at 174-10 67th Ave.
“They’re healing by helping other people understand what their actions can cause,” said Parent Coordinator Jean Mendler, “and that’s wonderful.”